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How do I Become a Romance Novelist?

Jessica Ellis
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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Romance novels are one of the most popular and best-selling genres of modern literature. This lucrative market, with a constant thirst for new material, is an excellent place for a budding author to attempt to break into the business. Writing is not always easy, however, and anyone trying to become a romance novelist would do well to prepare carefully before seeking publication.

Writers in any genre will say that one of the most important steps to becoming an author is to read. In order to become a romance novelist, reading many examples from the genre can help a new writer get a feel for the style, themes, and format of a published novel. In addition to reading romance novels, try reading anything with a great love story. Plays, biographies, and even classic literature can be a wonderful source of material and inspirations for anyone trying to become a romance novelist.

After sufficient study, a person attempting to become a romance novelist must begin his or her own story. Instead of jumping into page one, consider writing an outline for the story. In a few pages or a list of major scenes, outline the introduction of the characters, the romance story, the climax of the novel, and the ending. Some writers like to make detailed outlines that list every scene, so that writing the novel is a matter of filling in the blanks. Others prefer to have an more open outline that hits major story beats, but allows for creativity and ideas to strike in the writing process.

Character biographies are another useful tool when trying to become a romance novelist. Understanding the characters, their backgrounds, flaws, and abilities, can help them feel more like people and less like literary devices. A detailed character sketch can also help when trying to sell a romance novel, as compelling characters will help separate an author from the pack.

After the novel is written, consider asking friends or family members to read it over. Take careful notes on any suggestions, and begin to rewrite. Remember that the first draft is never perfect, and that rewriting can help turn a diamond in the rough into an actual diamond. When rewriting is complete, have the script proofread for errors, either by a professional or a grammar-and-spelling conscious friend. A script full of errors will tell publishers and agents they are dealing with an amateur.

Getting an agent or having a manuscript published is the next major step to become a romance novelist. Check with friends to see if anyone knows anyone in publishing; a script is much more likely to be read and considered if there is even a passing acquaintance involved. If not, check online and in bookstores for agency lists that accept unsolicited material. Instead of sending out the entire manuscript, consider sending a pitch package. This should include a cover letter, resume, and writing sample. Some people choose to send the first chapter only, others include a chapter and an outline of the plot. Try to make the agent or reader want to learn more about the script.

Although selling a manuscript may help a person become a romance novelist, it may take years of patience and dedication to reach this level. Many aspiring writers hold full-time jobs that allow them to work on evenings and weekends, even after selling a book or two. Turning writing into a lucrative career takes as much business sense as talent, but in order to become a romance novelist, published or not, all that is really required is a love of writing and a passion for the genre.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Jessica Ellis
By Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis brings a unique perspective to her work as a writer for Practical Adult Insights. While passionate about drama and film, Jessica enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics, creating content that is both informative and engaging for readers.
Discussion Comments
By croydon — On May 01, 2014

@Ana1234 - It depends on the kind of publisher you are going for. That might be true of those publishers that put out hundreds of books every year, and all of them basically the same story told over and over.

But there are plenty of romances that go the distance and stay on the shelves for year after year. Generally, they are published by publishers that don't specialize in romance though.

By Ana1234 — On Apr 30, 2014

@irontoenail - Just do a lot of research before you attempt this, especially if you are pinning financial hopes on it (which, by the way, is a terrible idea). Very few authors can actually support themselves with writing alone and many of those who do have been writing for years to get to that point.

In some ways, romance authors have a disadvantage, because romance companies have such a high turnover of titles. You don't get to keep your book on a backlist and have it reissued whenever you have a new hit like other publishers might. It comes out for a couple of months, people buy it in a pile with all their other romance books and then it disappears again forever.

If you want to become a romance novelist you have to be able to write multiple books, at least one per year or more if you can. That's the only way to make a living at it.

By irontoenail — On Apr 29, 2014

If you are interested in being a romance novelist, there is a ton of information and help available on the Mills and Boon website and probably on other romance websites as well. It's actually a pretty cool gig, just because there are so many people writing for this particular genre and they have cruises and things like that every year.

Plus, with the market being so huge (over 50% of books sales in the USA are in the romance genre) you can make a fair amount of money.

Of course, it's not as easy as people seem to think it is. You do actually have to work quite hard to get to the point where they will publish you.

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis...
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